Clinical Characteristics of "Gluten Ataxia" Described

Gluten sensitivity appears to be a cause of ataxia or altered gait and limb movement problems, even in the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms of celiac disease. Neurologic examination revealed peripheral neuropathy in 19 of the 28 patients, and magnetic resonance imaging showed evidence of cerebellar atrophy in six. The new data suggest that the severity of this manifestation may increase with disease duration, and that the immunologic damage to the cerebellum may be irreversible. Some of the patients in whom the diagnosis of gluten ataxia was prompt experienced complete resolution of their symptoms after strict adherence to a gluten-free diet.

Lancet November 14, 1998;352:1582-1585.

COMMENT: Food allergies can cause serious physical problems. This is the first report of cerebellar dysfunctions from wheat that I have seen. I don't believe any of us were designed to eat wheat. I am absolutely convinced that this is true for blood typ O patients. I would love to have seen a correlation with blood type in the above study. However, do not despair as spelt is an acceptable alternative for most of us who are not sensitive to gluten. A quick way to remember the gluten grains is BROWS (like eye brows) Barley, Rye, Oats, Wheat, Spelt.

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